Saturday, January 21, 2012

Winter Writing Projects

Since returning from Christmas break we have done LOTS of writing activities.  The first one focused on recalling details from several versions of the popular Ukrainian folktale The Mitten.

Each day we read a slightly different version of the story and wrote about the characters, setting, problem and resolution.  This helped us compare how the stories were the same and how they were different.  We also worked on writing complete sentences by telling about an event that happened at the beginning, in the middle and at the end of each story.


I had been hoping for a little snow to inspire the next few writing projects . . . but instead we just had to recall some of our past experiences.  Luckily we live in Kansas and we’ve all had the chance to go outside and play in the snow.  This being said, we read The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats earlier this week and made a cute little art project that was inspired by the main character.  Then we all wrote about our own snowy day adventures.clip_image005

This week we also did our very first technical writing activity.  We all made a “How To” book on Thursday.  Students seem to do their best writing when they can relate to the subject and can draw on their own experiences. So, building a snowman was the perfect topic. We began by reading The Biggest, Best Snowman by Margery Cuyler. In the story the main character, Little Nell, learned that even though she is little she can do BIG things . . . like build a snowman.

Next we worked together as a class to create a word bank on the Promethean board. This is often helpful for beginning writers.  We left it up so they could refer to it as needed. [clip_image004%255B7%255D.png]

Then students got to work in their books sequencing the four pictures and writing. I encouraged all of them to add details and descriptive words to make their writing more interesting to the reader.clip_image007

As students finished they got to decorate the front of their books with this cute little snowman art project.  I’ve kept the books at school to share with you at conferences.  It’s been so exciting to see how much improvement everyone is making with their writing skills. clip_image002

Friday, January 6, 2012

Ringing in the New Year

It was so great to see so many smiling faces on Wednesday when everyone returned to school.  After a nice {long} break the kids seemed happy to see all their friends and tell each other about their Christmas gifts.

This month our Maize Way character trait isPicture1

We rang in the new year by learning what it means to have self-discipline and the importance of making goals or resolutions.  To help with this we read Squirrels New Year’s Resolution by Pat Miller.  This story taught us that a resolution is “a promise you make to yourself to be better or help others”.  As a class we brainstormed a BIG list of resolutions  . . . then everyone got to choose one or two of their own and write about them.  Then we made these cute little phone art projects to Ring in the New Year and our resolutions are stapled under the numbers.


{craftivity inspired by A Cupcake for the Teacher}

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Our Native American Unit

This past week we have been learning about Native American culture in 1st grade. We have read several legends and done some fun art and writing activities to go along with them.

We read Arrow to the Sun which is a Pueblo tale about a Native American boy who is trying to find his father. He has to face his fears by going through four kivas (the kiva of lightning, snakes, bees and lions) before he and his father are reunited. After we finished reading the story we made a class book.  Everyone wrote about something they are afraid of.


We read Whale In the Sky which is a tale from the Northwest American Indians about totem poles. Then we made our own totem poles by putting animals in ABC order and writing a tale of our own in our journal to go along with the totem pole we built.


We read The Legend of Bluebonnet which is about a Native American girl who sacrifices her most prized possession to end her tribe’s suffering. A few of us even shed a few tears while we were reading the story. Then we made a class book by writing about what our most prized possession is and why.


Here are a few of our writing samples from the class book . . .DSCN0120DSCN0121DSCN0122

We read The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush which is about an Indian boy named Little Gopher who is smaller than all of the other children in his tribe and not able to ride horses, run and shoot bows and arrows with them. He finds out that he has a special talent when a Dream-Vision comes to him and we spends most of his life trying to paint a picture as pure as the night sky. After we read the story we decorated a bag to resemble Native American pottery and filled it with paintbrushes.


On Friday we worked hard ALL afternoon finishing up our unit by making our own book about Native Americans. All around the room were centers that had an art project and a sentence to write. We rotated around the room and somehow finished in record time . . . I think we are all still trying to earn those feathers for our headbands.


Here’s a {sneak} peek at what our finished product looked like . . .


We finished up right at the end of the day by making Native American boy & girl art project to go on the cover.


We also did some Thanksgiving {Pilgrim & Indian} Centers this week . . .

We put Thanksgiving words and symbols in ABC order.  Then we had to write a complete sentence using the each word.  We are REALLY working hard on neat handwriting and using capital letters and punctuation marks correctly.


We found each Indian’s missing feathers by solving the addition and subtraction facts.DSCN0051DSCN0071

We put sets of Native American symbols in order to count by 2’s to 50 and 5’s and 10’s to 100.


We unscrambled words to create complete sentences about Native Americans and the first Thanksgiving.  Over the past few weeks this activity has gotten much harder for us because there are no longer clues about which word goes at the beginning of the sentence and what kind of punctuation mark goes at the end of the sentence.  We are having to work with our partners to figure this out.


We practiced decoding short vowel words with blends and had to decide if they were real words or nonsense words.  We have learned that it is a real word if we can use it in a meaningful sentence.DSCN0113DSCN0116

We practiced working with related facts by writing two addition and two subtraction sentences to go with each set of numbers.


We wrote some silly sentences about Ten Little Indians by choosing action words and describing words to tell about what each Indian kid did.


We also got to listen to some great Thanksgiving themed books at the listening center.